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Tenants left in the dark

In the light of Housing NSW’s recent commitment to address the maintenance backlog for public housing properties in NSW, the SSH conducted its own inspection of Waterloo’s Solander building to determine the current condition of the public housing estate reports Vanessa Watson in the South Sydney Herald of December 2008.

Areas identified in need of repair include interior and external lighting, several broken doors and windows, fire escape stairs, landscaping, common area carpets and graffiti-covered walls.


On November 14, interior lighting on each floor of the 16-storey building was not functioning, leaving most of the building in darkness. On Level 16, a non-functioning fire alarm was located and photographed, along with a broken window that presented a risk of falling shards of glass into the car park below.

Non-slip metal stair edges in the fire escape stairwell were also largely missing, presenting a further hazard to tenants when required to exit the building quickly in the case of emergency.

Public housing tenant and activist, Ross Smith, described the overall condition of the building as “disgusting”, and said the numerous maintenance problems together constitute a security issue that affects the overall morale of the community.

“It’s run-down and showing signs of long-term neglect. The state of this building also indicates a lack of concern for the welfare and safety of the tenants,” he said. “I saw signs that components of the fire safety regime for the whole building were defective.”

Mr Smith claims that multiple security lights in surrounding outdoor areas have also been broken for years, contributing to many residents’ fears for their personal safety after dark, and that the building’s security doors are “inadequate for the purposes they were installed for”.

Newly appointed housing minister, David Borger, told the SSH that the new maintenance program will address all outstanding maintenance issues across every property in NSW within five to seven years and that money for achieving this task has already been set aside.

“We’re implementing probably one of the biggest reforms in housing certainly in the last decade. We’re trying to really resolve the maintenance backlog in housing, to get works programmed and done much quicker than they have in the past,” he said.

Though there is hope that buildings such as Solander will eventually benefit under the new maintenance system, many repairs may not be completed for another seven years, leaving some tenants claiming the plan is merely buying more time for inaction in Waterloo.

Photo: Ali Blogg - The Solander building in Waterloo

Source: South Sydney Herald December 2008